The Letter to the Hebrews contains some of the most profound verses in the Bible. Mixed with soaring descriptions of the majesty of Jesus are warnings to take our relationship with him seriously.
The first chapters of the letter describe how Jesus is endowed with greater significance than angels and Moses.
Because of the vast importance of his message, we must “pay greater attention” (2.1), “hold firm” (3.6), and “take care” (3.12) of our relationship with him.
Not only do we have the privilege of hearing from the Greatest Being of All, but we are given the grace of being his partner.
For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end (Hebrews 3.14).
It is a profound opportunity and privilege to be a partner with Jesus. Unfortunately, the pressures of the world tend to deceive us and draw us away.
Because we have the potential to be bad partners in the relationship, we are encouraged to “hold on” to what we have in Christ.
Once again, Hebrews uses the word “hold on.” Just as a boat is tied to a pier, we hold on and are tied in a faithful relationship with Jesus.
The author of Hebrews does not rely on logic or personal persuasive power when he encourages his audience to be tied in a faithful relationship with Jesus.
He quotes the Scripture (Psalm 95, Numbers 13-14) to make his case.
As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3.15)
Every preacher and teacher is well advised to base their message on what the old timers called the “whole counsel of God.”
The Bible is the story of God’s work in the world. It involves multiple examples of his character and his interaction with humans.
Like Hebrews, we do well to base our message on a clear picture of God’s activity. Psalm 95 was used to bring to mind the events of Numbers 13 and 14.
The use of a verse here and there will not accomplish what a teaching that is rooted in the complete word of God does.
We recall the Psalm 95 quote and refuse to harden our hearts in unbelief and rebellion. Instead, we hold tight to our faithful partnership with Jesus.
A Warning from History
George Santayana’s famous quote from the 1800s is true today and was true in the first century. “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Hebrews’ warning is to pay close attention to what God has done. He has revealed his purposes to humans through Jesus.
If we have received this revelation, the worst decision we can make is to ignore it and drift away from our partnership with Jesus.
The letter captured this message in the following manner.
Now who were they who heard and rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses?
And with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient?
So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief (Hebrews 3.16-19).
They heard, but rebelled, were disobedient, and unbelieving. History warns us to not make a similar mistake.
Rudy Ross and I talk about this passage today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
I am indebted to Gareth Lee Cockerill’s excellent commentary on Hebrews for information about the Letter to the Hebrews.
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